China seeks more competent translators as it exports more books to other countries

The interior of Librairie Avant-Garde, a bookstore in Nanjing, China.

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - China will export more publications to other countries, both in print and digital formats, to further expand its visibility, officials said. And it could do with more translators.

According to figures released at the 13th Chinese Books Overseas Promotion Project conference in Shanghai on Wednesday (Sept 13), China sold more than 50,000 publication copyrights from 2012 to 2016.

China's copyright exports for books grew by 30 per cent over that same period, said Mr Wu Shangzhi, deputy head of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and TV, at the meeting.

Books about contemporary China are making a great impact overseas, he said. For example, 6.4 million copies of "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China" have been distributed worldwide and appear in 22 languages.

Other works by the Chinese president, such as "Up and Out of Poverty and Anecdotes and Sayings of Xi Jinping", have also been published in multiple languages, and had copyrights sold to other countries, Mr Wu said.

But despite all the efforts and achievements in introducing Chinese books abroad, few have made a significant international impact, said Ms Cui Yuying, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and vice-minister of the State Council Information Office.

One of the problems, she said, is a lack of qualified translators.

The government should make a bigger effort to cultivate competent translators and bring talented translators to China, she suggested.

"We could increase compensation for outstanding translators, and provide bigger subsidies for books translated from Chinese," said Ms Cui.

"We encourage foreign students in China, as well as those who live and work in China for long periods, to be passionate about Chinese culture, and to take up the translation of Chinese books."

Amazon's China book section has more than 673,000 titles available. Exclusive shelves for Chinese books have been set up in mainstream bookstores in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates; and 27 Nishan House bookshops, a Chinese franchise, have opened in North and South America, Oceania and Africa.

A growing number of Chinese books are being sold on mainstream digital book sales platforms. At the same time, a series of digital platforms are being developed to provide information and an index of Chinese books in foreign languages.

At the conference, Shanghai-based Century Publishing Group shared its experience introducing the city's primary school mathematics textbooks to Britain.

"This is the first time China's primary and middle school textbooks - systematically and on a large scale - have entered the national educational system of a developed country," said Century Publishing president Wang Lan. "It is groundbreaking in China's publishing and educational history."

Century Publishing has also been successful publishing book series on Chinese culture. So far, 360 titles have been published and sold at major international airports, railway stations and other transportation hubs in 40 countries.

The group plans to launch a new series of picture books featuring Chinese folklore in Europe and the United States in April.

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